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A 50-year-old member asked:

Is alpha thalassemia trait the same thing as alpha thalassemia?

2 doctor answers3 doctors weighed in
Dr. Robert Kwok
Pediatrics 33 years experience
Not quite: Normal people have 4 Alpha globulin genes. Mutations in 1, 2, 3, or all 4 of the genes cause the 4 levels of Alpha thalassemia. One mutation = silent carrier (no symptoms), 2 mutat. = Alpha trait (mild anemia), 3 mutat. = HGB h disease (anemia sometimes needing transfusions), 4 mutat. = bart's disease (fatal before birth in almost all cases; lifelong transfusions needed to survive if born alive).
Dr. Michael Engel
Pediatric Hematology and Oncology 20 years experience
Thalassemia vs trait: Thalassemia is a deficiency in production of one of the globin chains. There are many variants that manifest a wide severity of symptoms from none to transfusion dependence. In the case of Alpha thal, the term is a catch all for all symptomatic variants of the disorder. Alpha that trait specifically refers to a two gene deletion, in either cis (same chromosome) or trans (different chromosomes).

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A 44-year-old member asked:

What is the alpha thalassemia trait?

1 doctor answer3 doctors weighed in
Dr. James Ferguson
Pediatrics 46 years experience
Inherited defect: Our regular hemoglobin is composed of Alpha and beta chains that come together to form working hemaglobin. Alpha thalassemia trait occurs when a person inherits a defective Alpha chain gene from one parent & a normal Alpha chain gene from the other. This causes some reduction in Alpha chain production with resulting mild anemia.

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Last updated Jun 24, 2014
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